November 18, 2011

High Fructose Corn Syrup: Just Say NO!

Articles by Dr. Erdman are for informational purposes, and are not to be taken as specific medical advice.

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a somewhat controversial topic.  Let’s look at what it is, why it is used, where it is found, and finally how it affects your body.

HFCS is a sweetener made from corn.  They say it is 50 percent fructose and 50 percent sucrose, but research and analysis shows it is up to 65% fructose.

It is used because it is a cheap substitute for sugar.  The use of HFCS rose 135% between 1977 and 2001.  In 1966, sucrose (sugar) was used in 86% of sweeteners.  Today, 55% use corn.  That is good for corn farmers, but not for your health.  It is the #1 source of calories in the USA today.

HFCS is found in many processed foods and beverages.  But, it is found in the highest concentrations in soda. Many nutritionists even accept HFCS as a viable form of sugar.  But nearly all simple sugars are metabolized quickly and disrupt insulin levels, which contribute to most chronic illnesses.  The website,, is run by the Corn Refiners Association.  It’s no “surprise”, then, that they say as fact, that “research confirms that HFCS is safe and no different from other common sweeteners like table sugar and honey.  All three sweeteners are nutritionally the same.”  They also make the claim that “though the individual sugars are metabolized by different pathways, this is of little consequence since the body sees the same mix of sugars from caloric sweeteners, regardless of source.”

It is the fructose in HFCS that is the biggest problem.  Real table sugar (sucrose) and fructose do NOT metabolize the same way.  Sucrose is turned into glucose and some fructose in your intestine, which is made into blood glucose, for use as energy by cells.  HFCS is metabolized in the liver and is made into fat and bad (LDL) cholesterol.  It is turned directly to fat faster than any other sugar entering the body.  Years of evidence points to the fact that refined, man-made fructose, like HFCS, metabolizes to triglycerides and adipose (fat) tissue, not blood glucose, as sucrose does.

The bad part of fructose is that is does not stimulate insulin secretion, nor enhance leptin production, for appetite suppression and weight control.  In laymen’s terms, you can eat this stuff all day, and it never satisfies your hunger!  So, you eat more and gain more weight.  Moreover, by raising your triglycerides and bad cholesterol, you are at increased risk of heart disease. 

Evidence also suggests that HFCS contributes to the development of diabetes.  This is because it contains reactive carbonyls that cause the tissue and cellular damage which can lead to diabetes.

But wait, fruit has fructose.  Why isn’t fruit bad for you?  To start, fruits have relatively little fructose, compared to a soda, with loads of HFCS.  Fruit juices, sodas and other beverages containing excess fructose should not be consumed regularly.  Yes! I said fruit juices are not healthful because they contain super concentrated amounts of fructose.  Eat the fruit, don’t just drink the juice.

Fructose also depletes your body of enzymes, vitamins and minerals.  HFCS has large amounts of fructose, but none of the good things needed to metabolize it.  That’s why fruit can still be good for you.  Fruits have the vitamins, minerals and enzymes needed, along with lower levels of fructose, so you can metabolize it normally.

Most experts agree that fructose is the primary factor in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, which can lead to liver failure.  The liver also produces extreme amounts of uric acid as a byproduct of fructose metabolism.  What do high uric acid levels lead to?  Gout.

In general, sugar is not good to consume if you have cancer, or want to prevent it.  But, fructose is directly metabolized by cancer cells to aid in their effort to divide, grow and spread, called metastasis.

Dr. Mercola says, “The fact is that a diet high in fructose is a high fat diet! And, a high fat diet creates a viscous cycle of consumption that won’t shut off, and produces very rapid, harmful changes in your body.”
According to researcher Gist; “Why is this Important?  Unlike excess glucose, which passes through our digestive tract and is excreted, 100% of fructose that’s consumed is taken up by the liver.  Once there, fructose causes increased fat deposition in the abdominal cavity and increased blood levels of triglycerides – both of which are factors for heart disease and diabetes.”

There is one thing worse than HFCS when talking about sweeteners and those are the artificial sweeteners.  Sugar is not good, HFCS is worse, and artificial sweeteners are the worst for your health. 

So, you’re asking, what should you use as a sweetener at home?  The answer is stevia.  I use it for most drinks and teas.  It is a plant, completely natural, thousands of times sweeter than sugar, and no calories!

Do you really want to harm your health by continuing to consume so much HFCS? Start on the road to better health by reducing your intake of this designer sweetener.